Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Symptoms & Complications
HCM is a complex condition caused by a gene mutation, so it is genetic in origin. It affects 1 in 500 people of all ages, with symptoms appearing in children and adults. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the muscle of the heart’s left ventricle is thicker than normal, or the wall between the two ventricles (septum) becomes enlarged and blocks the blood flow from the left ventricle.
Stiff and unable to relax properly between beats, the heart fills with less blood than it should, restricting the amount of blood pumped to the body. HCM is one type of cardiomyopathy, which is any disease that causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood effectively.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Symptoms
Symptoms of HCM can be few to non-existent. Exercising or activity may cause symptoms to surface, and the severity of symptoms can vary day-by-day and family-by-family.
Common symptoms of HCM include:
- Shortness of breath – during activity, when lying down and while sleeping
- Chest pain
- Fainting and near-fainting
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Swelling of the legs and feet
While many patients with HCM experience very few symptoms, some experience complications that require specialized care. Physicians at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin work together with each patient to minimize complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
These complications may include:
- Heart failure
- Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
- Heart blockages
- Heart valve infections
- Sudden cardiac death